Pros: Finely machined, very rugged, versatile (mats, grass), sturdy, attractive, simple operation
Cons: Pricier than shoving a stick in the ground
Driveway markers are some of the best training aids available. At a cost of about $2.99, they're readily available to those of us who live in the northern states where we, sadly, need to mark out our driveways and sidewalks with these bright orange fiberglass (often) sticks so that we don't snowplow our yards for the many months we have snow.
But the irony is that in these same northern states, and of course in any southern state as well, sticks don't work very well when you attempt to shove them into concrete, wood, carpeting, or other sorts of indoor flooring. Enter the Swing Plane Perfector (http://www.swingplaneperfector.com and on The Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SwingPlanePerfector).
The SPP is essentially a precise, finely machined aluminum contraption that accepts one, two, or three alignment sticks (and comes with three pretty darn beefy ones at that!) in a variety of configurations. The namesake is one that allows you to set your swing plane to any number from 40° to 90° for either a righty or a lefty. That's about 100° of freedom.
The SPP is comprised of three main parts. There's the base, which has two perpendicular slots that accept alignment sticks (along the target line, and perpendicular to the target line). The bottom of the base has four holes which accept included spikes, for use on grass. There's the rotational assembly, which accepts a third stick and can be adjusted from 40° to 90° for righties or lefties. And there are the alignment rods, of course - the SPP ships with three super durable, rugged rods that would run you quite a bit more than $2.99 at Home Depot or Lowe's.
The first thing that I noticed when I pulled the SPP from its packaging (which was itself carefully considered and very well made) was just how finely crafted it is. You can clearly tell that this was not a carelessly machined piece of equipment - it feels luxurious. The fit and finish is exquisite - there's a very high end feel.
Of course, high end feel is one thing, but functionality is another thing entirely. Fortunately, the SPP satisfies here as well.
As I mentioned, the SPP can be used indoors and out. A set of four aluminum spikes screw in to the bottom of the SPP, firmly affixing it to the ground. I wasn't able to test this on turf during my time with the SPP, but with the textures and grooves on the spikes, and their overall size, I am convinced that it will hold on all but the soggiest of ground (and you wouldn't be hitting golf balls from mud anyway).
I tested the SPP for a variety of tasks indoors. You'll have to excuse the lack of golfers in these photos, as I forgot to have my students sign model release contracts. :)
As the base is made of high-grade aluminum, it's fairly light, and even one of the included heavy-duty (i.e. heavy) sticks at a 60° angle is enough to tip it over. Fortunately, the SPP creators thought of that - the front edge of the SPP is beveled and designed to slide underneath the mat, as seen below. This secures the base and allows you to insert the heavy rods at any angle. Twist the knob, set the angle on the precisely marked scale, and twist again to tighten and lock the rod into place.
The SPP accepts a rod parallel to the target line both inside the base (when hitting off grass, or when using the SPP on a large mat), or through the middle of the knob when using the SPP on an elevated mat, as seen here:
An additional rod - which can act as a stabilizing rod to help the SPP from tipping over if you're just using it without the spikes or tucking it under the mat - slides in perpendicular to the target line:
In use, the SPP turned out to do exactly as it describes. It sets up and adjusts in no time, and can be used for a variety of drills and training. For example:
- Placing the swing plane rod to the inside quite a bit to help cure someone who "rolls the club in" during their takeaway (note: do not use this drill with Ray Floyd. He does fine. :D)
- Placing the swing plane rod in front of the golfer, and instructing them to keep the shaft to the "outside" of it for golfers who swing well to the left.
- In pitching, which is the opposite of the first bullet point: we encourage golfers to feel that they take the club back under the plane a bit.
- Set the rod at 90°, and put the rod by the golfer's front hips to encourage Key #2 improvement by pushing their hips forward to get their weight forward on the downswing.
- Many, many more…
The SPP page on The Facebook has near-daily submissions of drills and more creative uses for the Swing Plane Perfector. For example, the SPP can be used to help a golfer make a proper backswing, or to help a golfer who "early extends" or "humps the goat":
This is one of my favorite drills - you put a longer rod over the golfer's right shoulder to help them achieve proper hand depth and to help prevent them from shifting the left arm out prematurely:
The SPP can be used in a variety of ways. It can be used on the putting green, with the short game, and of course during full swing training.
After seeing this "oopsie daisy" I had to try out a simple fix: the SPP can easily withstand placing a foam "pool noodle" over the angled rod in order to protect the golfer and his clubs. This quickly became how we used the SPP, and it carries with it the added benefit of making the SPP that much more visible to the player, which further reinforces the work they're doing.
It's not really any secret that I love training aids. There are a lot of them, but it's rare to find one that's as well made and as versatile as the Swing Plane Perfector. The price may seem steep, but hold it in your hands and you'll know that this is a device that's made to last. It's not going to break, and so that cost (about $125) can be amortized over the duration of its use which numbers in the decades!
I recommend the Swing Plane Perfector to any golfer - and any golf instructor - who wants to get better or to make his students better. It works indoors and out, is well crafted, and is versatile.